End of History Illusion
Ep. 298
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history illusion

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In this episode, I dive deep into the psychology of changing your identity and the end of history illusion. If you’ve ever felt trapped by your current identity, unable to envision a different future for yourself, you’re not alone. I explore why we as humans resist change, cling to fixed identities, and struggle to embrace growth. Listen to discover how understanding these psychological quirks can empower you to break free from limiting beliefs, pursue new passions, and design a life you truly love. It’s time to challenge the notion that who you are now is who you’ll always be.
Show Transcript
Hey, welcome to Lessons from a Quitter, where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited you are here. I am gearing up to go on vacation with my family for two weeks. I'm super excited to go. We're gonna Switzerland and Germany. I have a lot of family in Germany. My um, husband had a conference there and it happened to be the week after my kids' spring break. So we were like, we're coming. We're gonna go see our family while you go to this conference and since the week before is spring break, we might as well go see another place in Europe that we've never gone.
And so we decided to go see Switzerland, which I'm super excited about. Also, it's the 50 50. I was actually looking up the weather and it might rain the whole time we're there. So you know, we're gonna manage our minds and we're gonna have a great time and I'm super excited about that. But before I go, I am finishing up my launch for my Beginner business bootcamp. It ends today. So if you're listening to this podcast on Tuesday, when it comes out, doors will close tonight. And if you wanted to get in, if you want help with your business, if you want someone to be able to have their eyes on your foundation to help you figure out your niche, your offer, your pricing, your process, how you should sell it, your marketing, your messaging, that's what we do in this bootcamp. It is a very small group so that I can work with you really one-on-one on what you're working on and get you up and running within three months.
It is 12 weeks that you'll be up and running, but then you also have three months of support with three monthly calls afterwards so we can check in troubleshoot. So it's six months of support to make sure that you get that business out the door and not just stuck in your head spinning forever. If you're interested, go to club.com/business. Today's the last day sign up. You'll get emailed all the information you can apply and we'll be letting people know this week who can join before I take off for year up. Now onto today's episode. Actually it is sort of linked as I was gearing up to open up this business bootcamp, I was really thinking about this concept because I was thinking about so many people who really want to start a business like are, have really flirted with the idea the seed has been planted.
You see all these people creating online businesses and yet you stop yourself because of these identity thoughts because of thoughts of like, I don't really know if I could do that. Who am I to do that? All that. And I think there's this piece that a lot of us struggle with in changing what we think we're allowed to do. Like changing our identity of what we are allowed to do in the future. And one piece of it has to do with this end of history illusion. And so I wanted talk about it. I mean obviously it applies to everyone, not just whether he should start a business or not, but part of it was triggered by me thinking about the people that want to switch from uh, employee to entrepreneur. And I think that it's a kind of psychological illusion that you should be aware of because this is the thing, the reason I love studying psychology and the reason I love studying the brain and I love reading about different studies is because it's, you know, proven fact unequivocal that we are actually utterly irrational in how we do things.
Humans in general, a lot of our decision making is very irrational. No matter how much we all wanna think that we are logical, we very predictably fall into certain traps where we might, you know, um, overemphasize certain things. We might be biased towards certain things, we might fall for certain things very easily. And the reason I like learning about it so much is because A, it helps you understand why you do the things you do, even if they don't rationally make sense. But B, it helps you overcome them. Once you can see why you do something, it becomes easier to not do that thing or to push through that thing, right? I've talked about a lot of different things like the sunk cost fallacy and you know, once you're aware of like, Hey, I'm holding onto this thing because I've invested so much time and energy, it becomes easier for me to then cut my losses and be like, okay, I understand why my brain wants me to hold onto this 'cause I feel like I'm losing all of this time and energy.
But now I can counteract that by knowing well I'm gonna lose so much more in the future if I don't just cut my losses and try something else. And so it's the same thing with the end of history illusion. The reason I, I want you all to be familiar with this if you haven't heard of it yet or if it's not something you've really thought about because this is how you can overcome it. And I think this is one of the bigger ones to be able to overcome. So what is the end of history illusion? It is this psychological phenomenon. This the way that we think where most of us at all ages, even though we have experienced significant personal growth and change, when we look to our history right and we, we can see like since I was in my twenties, I have become a very different person.
Even though we know that and we see it constantly, we think that those changes are simply to the present moment and that's it, right? We believe that we will not substantially change or mature in the future. Okay? So it is this illusion that despite being able to recognize that we have evolved up until now and that we're, you know, know maybe we changed our beliefs or our views or convictions or whatnot, we predict that we'll remain roughly the same in the future. Okay? And so the reason that it's so fascinating and I don't pretend to know a lot of why we do this, but I mean when I heard it I was like, it instantly made sense to me 'cause my brain works the same way. Is you think who you are in the present tense is your fully formed self, your fully developed self and that this somehow is sort of set in stone.
This is kind of the person that you are, right? And so I think for a lot of us it's almost easy to write off kind of our past self as you know, whether it was childhood or teenage years and adolescence or young adult as like, well yeah those are times where your brain is really developing and you're actually kind of growing and you don't have life experience. And so it sort of makes sense that, you know, we would grow and change but then we believe that we become these fixed things and it couldn't be further from the truth. The reason this is an illusion is because it's not actually true because you will continue to change. And what's fascinating is like if you're in your forties and you look back and you think, okay, I did change a lot in my twenties and I actually changed a lot of my thirties, but like this is me now when you're in your fifties, you're gonna look back and be like, no, I actually really did change a lot in the 10 years of my forties.
Right? But now like you're gonna do it at every stage, which is so fascinating, right? And so the reason that this is important to know is to understand that you will continue to change and you should. It's a good thing to change. I think for a lot of us we get so tied to our identities and our identities are so based on our beliefs and our convictions and we create this persona of ourselves that we have deemed as good and moral. And you know, otherwise most of us wouldn't continue these identities. But whatever your belief system is, let's say you are a Democrat or you're a Republican or you're Catholic or you're Buddhist or you're non-spiritual, whatever it is, you've picked those things because there's certain beliefs that you believe in and you clearly think those are good, otherwise you wouldn't pick those, right? Every one of us, like whether it's we were influenced because of our family or where we live or whatnot, we have accepted that this is sort of the quote unquote right way to be or the better way to be or the good way to be.
And then we sort of dig our heels in, which is what the problem is, right? Is that we believe that like in order to be this person, in order for me, let's say I actually care about people so I'm a liberal or I actually care about people so I'm a conservative or whatnot, whatever it is that we think it is, that we think like is the moral good. And so it becomes really difficult to change those beliefs even though it is scientifically proven that you will still change, you will have new experiences, you will see the world in different ways, new things will pop up for you. And for a lot of us, the reason we have these like almost like identity crises or we have these really existential crises of like who am I if I'm not X? Who am I if I'm not Y, right?
Because we have built so much of our identity around that, even around our jobs, right? Who am I if I'm not a lawyer? And the thing is, is you, are you, regardless of the roles you play, you are you regardless of your beliefs, you are the same person. You are simply changing your belief system or your convictions. And again, I can't reiterate this enough, like how good that change is for us for society, for humans. Would you want to be the same person you were as your twenties? Like would you want to have to be forced to keep the same thoughts and beliefs? What about in your thirties? I know I wouldn't. I know for me it's not to say it hasn't been deeply uncomfortable. It has and some of it's very humbling because listen, when I was in my twenties I thought I knew it all.
I had everything figured out and everybody else was just an idiot. The world was black and white. I knew right and wrong. Everybody else was just not intelligent enough to understand what I understood. I am very glad that I got humbled, right? It wasn't fun to be humbled in that way. But as I went through life and I had the experiences I had, I realized maybe I don't know it all, maybe I have no idea what I'm doing. And that couldn't have been a better experience for me simply because it opened me up to being wrong. It opened me up to changing. It opened me up to being like what else do I not know? What else do I need to learn? It helps me understand empathy for other people. It helped me see what other people might be stuck in their beliefs that might be wrong.
I've, I just feel like the person I was in my twenties was a completely different human and I cannot imagine having to like stick to that. I can't imagine having to stick to the person I was in my thirties now that I'm in my forties, right? Like I remember in my thirties I started having as a lawyer and I spent years navigating the muck that was changing that identity and also being a mom to young kids. And a lot of what I thought I knew about raising children humbled me real quick after I had those kids. And I'm glad, I'm glad I got to learn. I'm glad in my forties and my worldviews have changed. I'm glad I look at things, things that I thought were like set in stone for me and I'm like maybe I was wrong. Maybe there's something more to this.
Maybe I'm missing something. And I think one of the biggest things that I've learned in this entire journey is truly to let go of that need to control in any aspect, right? And with that even comes in controlling myself, in controlling who I think I have to be in opening myself up to the fact of like I have no idea who I'm gonna be in my fifties or my sixties or my seventies. I have no idea what I'm gonna think and that's okay 'cause I'll figure it out 'cause I'm sure life will humble me many more times. I think about this a lot when I think about, you know, in two, two respects, like one for so many of you that are having such a hard time thinking about changing your career, right? Thinking about maybe changing your relationships, your friendships. For so many of us it's so difficult to think about change because we believed like where we were at a certain point that was supposed to be it.
There wasn't supposed to be change. I was supposed to be in love with this person and that was it. This was supposed to be my best friend and that was it. I was supposed to be a lawyer and that was it. That was the game plan, right? Because we live in a society that measures success by longevity. We live in a society that like it doesn't matter if you marriage is loveless and you hate each other, if you've been married 25 years is a success, right? It doesn't matter if you are suicidal as a lawyer and you hate every day and you're on anti-anxiety medication, you've been a lawyer for two decades, that means you're a success, right? And we have to be able to change that definition of success for ourselves. We have to decide like is it okay for it to be in chapters?
Is it okay to say that something can run its course that a marriage could be a success even if it ends in divorce because it ran its course because it was done. Now again, you can have different beliefs, that's totally fine. You can decide that certain things, you wanna think about it in one way, you don't have to agree with me. But what I think about is like there's a reason for so many of us have a such a hard time with these concepts of like change, changing our careers, changing our relationships because we've equated it to like success and failure. If I leave, if I'm not a lawyer, then who am I? If I'm not a doctor, who am I? If I'm not a teacher, then who am I, right? As opposed to like I was just a person who was working in law, being a lawyer does not have to be my identity.
And I think for so many of us, when I see people struggle with what they wanna do next, it's because they think they have to pick a thing that has to be the thing that they do for the rest of their lives. And I think that this illusion, this end of history illusion is so important to understand because you can't know who you're gonna be in 10 years or 20 years. You can't know. You can pick something based on your curiosity. Now you can pick something that you love now and you should and you should still go after it because it will help you grow because it will give you some more life experience because you'll learn a new trade because you'll do something that you love and you can be open to the fact that that might not be the end all be all either that might not be what you'll into in 10 years.
I see so many people do this. Like one of the reasons I actually loved entrepreneurship, I remember when I first left the law and I was going to these networking events and I've talked about this a lot. Like one of the networking events that really shifted a lot for me was going to a startup networking event where everybody was, you know, just startup founders, entrepreneurs. And the reason I still remember this like being blown away that the people I would talk to would tell me their history as an entrepreneur and they would tell me all these different types of businesses that they had run and nothing was the same. I remember being like, wait, how did you go from you know, running a healthcare company to starting like a skincare line to you know, building computer chips? And I mean I started really understanding that like once you understand the foundation of business, you understand sales and marketing and you know the backend understanding business models and profit margins, you can apply it to anything.
But it was so liberating because I'd come from an industry where it was like you pick not even just law, like you pick your niche in law and you stick with that like you're a divorce attorney or family attorney, that's what you are. You're an immigration attorney, that's what you are, you know, malpractice fine. That's what you do forever. That's like your career. So when I would find people that are like, I took these same things and I applied it to something else or I transferred or I learned this other industry, I remember thinking like how liberating. It's not the thing you have to do for the rest of your life. And I have to say that it was one of the things that really attracted me to entrepreneurship. 'cause I kept thinking, well it's not like I have to choose the one business I'm gonna run for the rest of my life.
I just have to learn business. I have to like start a business so I can learn it and then maybe in a couple years I'll change it. Which is exactly what I did. And I know even now, like one of the, I think the keys to me feeling so liberated is because I know that the business that I have built has just given me a bunch of skills that I can apply to other things. And I don't have to continue this like in a couple years if I'm done with coaching, if I'm like, hey, I've grown out of this, I've grown, I'm not in my forties anymore, I wanna try something else. There's nothing that's stopping me. Like I have a set of skills that I can use in other arenas. And I feel like for so many people you'll stay stuck forever if you're trying to predict where you're gonna be in 10, 20, 30 years because you will change.
And I've seen so many people where like they even did love something like I see this for myself actually. Like I love coaching, I love this business so much and I can totally see that I would want to try something else in like 10 years. I may not wanna do this anymore. I don't know, maybe I will. But I've seen other people do that where it's like they had a passion for something and they did it. They opened up the bakery or they started teaching or they went to live abroad and help people in other countries and then they were done with that chapter. They did that for 3, 5, 10 years. And they were like, you know what? It was great. It's still great. I can be really grateful for it and I'm ready to try something else because I'm a human and I grow, I evolve.
There's never a time where my personality becomes static where I don't change. And so I can decide that like this was great until this point and now I wanna try something else. And I think that the real problem happens for a lot of us when we don't give ourselves that freedom. Another psychological phenomena that happens that we all know about is like the confirmation bias where we seek out information that confirms our own beliefs. So basically like because we want to be right, we look for information that confirms and we discount or we ignore information to the opposite and we dig our heels in deeper. So it's like if I believe that my religion is the right religion, it's like anything that counteract that I'm gonna dismiss and I'm going to become even more fervent in arguing how my religion is the right one let's say.
And so because of that, for so many of us, we actually solidify our identities more and more and more even if we don't actually believe it. But because there's such a threat to like what if I'm wrong, right? What if there's actual evidence that like maybe my political beliefs or my religious beliefs or my beliefs in the world or whatever are not the right ones. And we feel so threatened by that that like what if I could have been wrong this whole time? What does that say about me? And what if I harmed people and what if I'm not quote unquote good or whatever existential crisis we go into. So we're like, that's too threatening. So I'm just gonna double down on the fact that like this has to be right and I'm gonna fight everybody who says anything to the opposite. And that is honestly such a big problem in our society where you see people that are not willing to listen to anything from any other side, right?
Like where we become more extreme in our views and we have the ability now with social media and these kind of silos that we've created to not take in really anybody else's views and just like surround ourselves with people that believe the same things we do and then become hardened in those views. A very difficult thing to do. But one of the most important is to be open to changing your mind is to be open to being wrong. You should want your beliefs to change, right? It shows growth and maturity. Think about it like would you want to have to keep your beliefs from when you were 20? Would that sound appealing to you if you had to think and feel the same exact thing as you felt when you were twenties? No, because you learned hopefully and you grew. And that doesn't change when your thirties or forties or fifties or sixties.
Life keeps life in and you will keep learning experiences. And that's sort of the point. That's sort of the point of this whole human existence, this experience is to constantly learn and grow. It's why our brains don't stop growing. We are one of the only animals. We're like a lot of animals like at puberty or whatnot, their brains, the synapses they form basically become static. Like they don't learn anything new. Humans are not like that. We can continue learning. And so part of it is simply the fear that we will lose our identity. And so we hold on so tightly to those identities, to these false made up roles that we've put ourselves in that we think if I'm not this, then what am I? And I just want you to know that it, it can be such a gift to loosen that up a little bit to know that I am not anything that I have said I am and I'm allowed to be wrong. I'm allowed to have been mistaken. I'm allowed to hold, you know, two conflicting beliefs that life is so much more nuanced and gray than what I like to believe. That I'm willing to hear other points of view that I'm willing to see when I'm wrong, that I'm willing to change.
And the more you can do that, the more you can strip your own identity from your beliefs, the more you can know that you are a good person and you have good intentions and you do wanna love people and have a fairly like, I dunno, safe, easy life. Like that's sort of what most of our goals are. Everything else is just kind of a means to that end. Everything else is trying to make sense of the world. Everything else is trying to make sense of our lives and that can change and I can decide that I'm gonna be different. The more you can do that, the more you liberate yourself to change and grow. And so I just want you to really understand this end of history illusion for yourself. I want you to think about where you are right now. And I think for a lot of us, we really can't think of ourselves as different.
You're like, well this is what I believe because obviously I believe, I think it's right. So like to think something else is right is just beyond my conception. Like the my ability to to conceive that. And I want you to just sit with like maybe I could be wrong even right now in what I believe or maybe I can be okay with changing my identity a little bit. Because a lot of what you go after or what you create in your life starts from that self concept, starts from that identity. If you have fixed your identity and I am this person and that's all I can ever do, then you close yourself off from doing things that does not fit with that identity, right? And so for so many of us where we do wanna try something new or we do wanna venture out or we wanna experiment, but we've told ourselves like this is who I am and I can't change.
That's the only thing that's stopping us. Like once you change that self concept, it becomes easier to be like, oh, I'm the person that experiments. I'm the person that tries new things. And so like I said in the beginning, the reason I think about this sometimes with entrepreneurship was I had the same journey with entrepreneurship. I remember in my mid thirties when I was thinking about entrepreneurship, one of the things I butted up against was my identity. I had created an identity and a set of beliefs and I had said these words, I kid you not, I used to say this all the time that I will never go into business. I had all these beliefs about people that were in business and how evil they were and um, I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn't think I had any of the abilities to be an entrepreneur.
I had a lot of beliefs around it. And I remember when the thoughts I had was like, oh this kind of sounds cool. I remember how threatening that was. 'cause I was like, well I've been this person that has bad mouth, you know, capitalism and free market and businesses and people that run businesses. Who am I if I go and do this thing now? I mean I didn't reconcile that quickly. It took me like years to kind of reconcile those beliefs. But I remember how hard it was for me to just change the identity of like maybe I can be someone that also runs a business. Maybe I'm allowed to change the beliefs that I used to have. Maybe it isn't black and white. Maybe there is a middle ground, maybe some of the beliefs I have, have some truth to it, but maybe there's also a wiggle room.
What would that look like, right? And what am I scared of? And like the more I examined those beliefs, the easier it became for me to figure out what I wanted to do and to open myself up to that ability to do that. And so I want you to think about it, not just like whether you wanna do entrepreneurship or not or whether you wanna do something else for your career. I just want you to think about like where are you fixed in your personality right now? Where do you think like, I cannot change this about me. This is who I am. And is there any wiggle room in there for you? Can you see that maybe in 10 years that won't be who you are? Can we start like letting go of the grip a little bit and just being open to it. It's not like you have to change it all.
Now. I think that a lot of this change happens naturally. I just think we have to be aware of this end of history illusion and to understand like this isn't the final version of you. This isn't who you're gonna be for the rest of your life. And that's okay. The point is to grow. So you really have to answer the question of like, who am I if I'm not? Fill in the blank. 'cause you're a lot of things without being any one role for so many of us, we're so scared of it. Or we think it says something about us that growth is supposed to be there. Nothing has gone wrong. You changing does not mean anything has gone wrong. You growing apart from people doesn't mean anything has gone wrong. It's just how humans are. And what would you do if you allowed yourself to change?
It's a pretty powerful question. 'cause I think there's a lot of us that want to do a lot of things, but we hold ourselves back because we think that's not who I am. And I'm here to tell you, you can be whoever the hell you want to be. And if you embrace the change that's gonna come in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years for you, you can have a hell of a ride, my friend. All right, I hope that was helpful. I hope that you think more about how you might change in the future and not just the past. And I hope you really answer that question of who you would be if you allowed yourself to change. And if you want to start diving into changing that identity into entrepreneurship, join me for my bootcamp, my 12 week program to starting your online business. You can go to quitterclub.com/business and I will be back next week with another episode.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome, and we start working on what does and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching tools and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to lessonsfromaquitter.com/quitterclub and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.